This is post-action documentation of what happened during the cancellation of WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. Asia at the start of the pandemic. There are no necessary action items remaining, this is simply to make the work and process available publicly should the need ever arise again ~Josepha.
Timeline – 2020
- 3 community members reached out to WordCamp CentralWordCamp Central Website for all WordCamp activities globally. https://central.wordcamp.org includes a list of upcoming and past camp with links to each. (WCC) to ask about how the coronavirus might impact WordCamp Asia (WCA).
- First mention of coronavirus among make.wp.org contributors, who were bringing concerns from their team members.
- WCC reached out to the WCA organizing team to discuss whether or not there was cause for concern.
- WCA organizing team publicly announced they were monitoring the situation: https://2020.asia.wordcamp.org/2020/01/27/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-outbreak-update/
- WCA team began researching contracts, etc. in case of a late cancellation.
- Thai Department of Disease Control (DDC) made recommendations for gathering in crowded places, but no directives to postpone: https://ddc.moph.go.th/viralpneumonia/eng/file/recommendation/06crowded_place.pdf
- WCC and WCA team collaborated on possible cancellation criteria and landed on travel advisory from US or UK to Thailand + travel advisory from any SE Asian country to Thailand.
- Declared a global health emergency by W.H.O.
- WCA local team member had a call with Thai Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation officer.
- WCA team publicly shared their cancellation criteria, and assurances that planning was proceeding as usual: https://2020.asia.wordcamp.org/2020/01/27/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-outbreak-update/
WCC received reports about the following:
- a significant number of sponsors cancelled their travel
- a significant number of speakers cancelled (due to health concerns or flight cancelations)
- some companies were not allowing them to attend
- Some organizers privately shared their concerns about legal consequences if the event did happen and people were infected.
- our contact inside the Ministry of Health assured us that the Thai gov was planning an announcement for big events to be postponed.
- WCC had several meetings with the WCA team discussing all these factors with a focus on having our attendees’ safety as the main priority.
- There was no unanimous position between WCA and WCA on what to do next.
- Later that day, the DDC recommended that big events in Thailand be postponed unless absolutely necessary: https://ddc.moph.go.th/viralpneumonia/eng/file/recommendation/016Recommendations.pdf
- WC Asia was officially cancelled.
Cancelling the Event
WCC and worked through an 8-hr handoff, global communication plan. Communicating the change was a lengthy process, due to the desire to maintain ethical communication patterns. It was important to let anyone who would have to accomplish the bulk of the work (or receive a bulk of the feedback) know first, and progressively share the information from there.
Inform the organizing team:
- The team was spread across several time zones.
- Naoko delivered the news progressively across all three time zones.
Inform the public:
- Andrea coordinated with the organizing team when and how to communicate the changes through their channels.
- Josepha coordinated with Matt how to communicate the changes on WordPress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org//news.
Create supporting materials:
- Writing and proofreading posts for each property
- Letters to request that fees/penalties be waived
- Emails to attendees, sponsors, etc
- Canceling/moving dates with the venue
- Negotiating changes with the hotel
- Helping connect affected attendees to community initiatives
- Monitor social media, private SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. instances, and influential bloggers
Temp Checks and Feedback
Many factors were taken into account while discussing how to move forward. These were some of the most concerning unknowns that we had:
- Thai govt gave some inconsistent pointers, such as advice to avoid large gatherings but then not preventing them.
- The unpredictability of quarantines, and other disruptions to travel.
- Uncertainty of the incubation period, increasing the possibility of unknowingly spreading the virus.
- Attendee-focused decisions were hard because putting the attendee first can be “making sure they can attend regardless” or “making sure we don’t put them in harm’s way unnecessarily”.
- People are worried about how this affects future flagship events.